21 April 2000 | JMann
An assembly of passionate moments as passing fancies
Akerman's Toute une nuit is a collection of vignettes depicting the fancies and dramatic moments of a number of people throughout one summer night. The film has little dialogue and relies on a remarkable series of contrasts for effect: a sultry night of deep, often painful depictions of passion visualized in a stark and grainy manner against the backdrop of a spiritless, bland Brussels.
Perhaps the film's greatest strength is the irony of richness in its seemingly static depiction. Each of the pictures is beautifully ephemeral, usually lasting no more than one action, movement, or event. They allow no real presentation of characters, but nonetheless show each 'character' in a special and unique way. At the end, it is possible to define each of these individuals distinctly from the careful balance of motions, occasional dialogue, and atmosphere in which they were presented.
For those dependent on (or at least accustomed to) an integrated style of narrative giving greater importance to dialogue, this can be a difficult film to watch. And for what one would expect for it to compensate in subtlety, it is often dry. It is well orchestrated nonetheless, a satisfying arc of characters and their interactions for a careful viewer.